Fast forward to the interview day, it was the 14th of February and love is in the air they say, there I was chasing after my goals. I did not go to work. I was like preparing for a date – cooking ideas, grooming myself to be as presentable as possible and thinking of sentences on how to have a YES for an answer. Everything went well the whole day but during the main event, Prof. Grunde Jomaas could not contact me on Skype even though he saw that I was online and I could not contact him also. A quarter of an hour already passed when we finally had a connection. I was so nervous because the allotted time is only 30 minutes so I used some 10 minutes of the next interviewee’s time. Whoever you are, I am really sorry. 😊
Then, the agony of waiting started. Every day, I was checking my email and it came at a time where I was in the most unexpected place. I was inside an elevator and I wanted to shout and to jump but I kept the happiness inside so as not to damage the elevator out of excitement. I was smiling the whole night and texted the news to my family and friends. “Is this really happening?”, that is the only thing that I was thinking of that night.
Everything was already set – the university that I want to start the program in, the elective course that I want to take, the university residence hall that I want to stay in, my mindset in general – when another good news from another reputable university came. It rocked my already peaceful mind. There I was, torn between two equally good but completely different options, needed to make the hardest decision ever that would dictate the fate of my career and my life as a whole. Something that I have knowledge in or something that is entirely new? One university or at most four but at least two universities? Asia or Europe? Civil engineering or fire safety engineering?
I had a whole week to decide if I am going to decline the second opportunity. To be honest, I also thought of declining the IMFSE. I asked for signs from “the gods both old and new” (yeah, that is from Game of Thrones). All the Bible verses of the day for the whole week from my phone and the internet were pointing to only one. I even read a journal saying that the deadline is near but you have no decision yet. My officemates even gave me a chocolate with a message inside, hoping that I would find the answer there. To my surprise, the message written is “Choose different.” During that time, it was like the whole universe is speaking to me but still I was not firm with my decision. I felt that I needed a last sign, something really grand.
The next day, it was the anniversary celebration of the company that I previously worked for and it was also the pseudo-deadline (long story but let us just say that it is a two-day deadline) of giving the decision for the second opportunity. I was still patiently waiting for the sign. On our way to the place where the celebration will be held, the traffic was really heavy on the expressway. From afar, I saw a thick cloud of black smoke and it was coming from a burning factory (see picture below). “THIS IS THE SIGN!”, I told myself.
The Burning Factory
I started composing the decline letter for the other university and I sent it the next day (the real deadline) 30 minutes before the time. “There is no turning back.” I was still in doubt with the status of my admission to the IMFSE because I just received an email and I considered it informal. I was worried that I just let the other one slip away. But later that night, I received the acceptance letter and the access to my student page. What a mind-blowing turn of events!
I know that when the universe consFIREs, it is for a reason and several months after that divine intervention, I am writing this blog at Ghent University, inside a room in Home Vermeylen, setting aside for a few hours my study notes in “Modelling of Turbulence and Combustion” (that should have been “Introduction to Entrepreneurship” if not for a schedule conflict with a major course), sharing to everyone my fiery, celestial and unexplainable experience.